Ancient Roam (previous version)


This help page explains how to use the previous version of Ancient Roam to view and create maps of historical Ordnance Survey data. Also see the FAQs section for frequently asked questions about using Ancient Roam and the historical map data.

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Ancient Roam enables you to view and print historical Ordnance Survey maps, dating from the 1840s - 1990s, at 12 pre-defined scales. (In addition, there are 5 pre-defined small scale views of contemporary mapping for reference, to help you locate your area of interest. Contemporary maps are not available to print).

  1. Map window - Where the maps are displayed.
  2. View Name - Each scale of map has a View Name
  3. Overlapping Map Selection - Select a single county in areas of county map overlaps.
  4. Overview Map - This shows the current map location in a wider geographical area.
  5. Map Information - To view details about the current map view.
  6. Open - Open saved maps and annotations
  7. Save - Store maps and annotations to retrieve at a later date.

  8. Print - Click to go to print options.  Click to produce printable PDF, PNG, JPEG files of your map.

  9. The timeline - Click to select a decade to view historical maps for.

  10. Map Tools - Annotations Tools and Measurement Tools.

  11. Map information - Click to view spatial extent details for the current map view.

  12. Window Navigation

    1. Zoom to area -Use to click and drag on the map to zoom to a specific area.

    2. Zoom to full extent - Click to zoom out to GB view.

    3. Previous/next map - Click to go back to previous views.
  13. Help - Click to view the Help Pages.
  14. Search - Click to search for places, postcodes, grid references and coordinates.
  15. Navigation controls - Click to navigate the map.


Note: To expand/collapse the left hand panel click the Expand arrow or Collapse arrow icons.

Navigating in Ancient Roam

You can navigate in Ancient Roam by panning (moving the map in any direction) and by zooming in and out of the map.

To pan you can either:

Navigation control

Click the relevant arrow to pan the map in that direction.

To zoom in/out of the map, you can:

Zoom slider bar

Searching for a location

You can search for a location in Ancient Roam  using a place name, postcode, grid reference, easting/northing or latitude/longitude. Click on the main menubar to expand the search box.


Advanced Search

To search using the Advanced options:

Viewing historical maps

Once you have located your area of interest, use the zoom controls to zoom in to start viewing historical maps. The Timeline shows the availability of historical maps for the current location and view level for each decade.

Using the timeline:

Note: The decade selection is retained as you zoom and pan around the maps. This means you may end up in an area where there are no maps available for the selected decade at that view level. If that happens, you will see a green background with the message "No historic maps of this location are available for this decade and zoom level: try changing the decade and/or zoom level." Try selecting a different decade, view level or pan to a new location to view historical maps.


Viewing two maps side by side

The 2 up View feature of Ancient Roam shows historic two maps of the same location but from different decades, at the same time. This allows places to be shown side by side to see how the landscape has changed over time.

To view a place in the 2 up View:

  1. Search or navigate to your chosen location.
  2. Click the 2 up View icon in the top right of the map window. The same map will appear in both map windows of the 2 up View.
  3. Select the decades for both maps that you wish to view by clicking the decade in the Timeline. The two Timelines are independent of each other, each Timeline controls the decade selection for the map beneath it.
  4. You can change the view level and pan in either of the map windows. Changing the view level or panning in either map will change the other map at the same time. This means both maps will always be of the same location.
  5. You can switch back to the main map window by clicking the 1 up View icon in the top right. This will load the map from the left hand window into the 1up View.

NB: Searching, the Overview Map and Map Information are all available in the 2 up View and can be accessed via the left-hand menu panel and the Search button in the top right.

Understanding map views

Ancient Roam has 17 different pre-defined map scales, called views. The 5 smallest scale views (i.e. the 5 most zoomed out views) consist of contemporary Ordnance Survey map data and are intended as reference for you to locate your area of interest more easily. These views are highlighted by the 'Modern' section on the zoom slider. There are 12 historical map views consisting of different historical map data which are appropriate for that view's scale. These views are highlighted by the 'Historical' section on the zoom slider. The following table lists the scale and map products used for each view, to help you decide which view is appropriate for your purpose.

View Modern or Historical maps Map Product Scale (approx)
GB Modern
  • Digital Chart of the World country outlines
Regional Modern
  • OS Miniscale®
Metropolitan Modern
  • OS Miniscale®
District Modern
  • OS Miniscale®
County Modern
  • OS 1:50 000 Colour Raster
Shire View 1 Historical
  • 1:10560 County Series
  • 1:10560 National Grid Series
  • 1:10000 National Grid Series
Shire View 2 Historical
  • 1:10560 County Series
  • 1:10560 National Grid Series
  • 1:10000 National Grid Series
Shire View 3 Historical
  • 1:10560 County Series
  • 1:10560 National Grid Series
  • 1:10000 National Grid Series
Shire View 4 Historical
  • 1:10560 County Series
  • 1:10560 National Grid Series
  • 1:10000 National Grid Series
Parish View 1 Historical
  • 1:2500 County Series
  • 1:2500 National Grid Series
Parish View 2 Historical
  • 1:2500 County Series
  • 1:2500 National Grid Series
Street View 1 Historical
  • 1:2500 County Series
  • 1:2500 National Grid Series
Street View 2 Historical
  • 1:2500 County Series
  • 1:2500 National Grid Series
Plan View 1 Historical
  • 1:1056 Town Plans
  • 1:1250 National Grid Series
Plan View 2 Historical
  • 1:1056 Town Plans
  • 1:1250 National Grid Series
Plan View 3 Historical
  • 1:500
  • 1:528 Town Plans
  • NB: Only available pre World War II
Plan View 4 Historical
  • 1:500
  • 1:528 Town Plans
  • NB: Only available pre World War II


Overlapping map selection

Overlapping maps occur in the County Series mapping as these maps were produced from individual county surveys, rather than national surveys. Please see the County Series Map Overlaps help page for a detailed explanation of why these maps overlap.

When you hit an area with overlapping maps in Ancient Roam, the Overlapping Map Selection tab in the left-panel will be highlighted in orange to alert you that there are overlaps. In some cases, the overlap doesn't cause any problems and you may not need to select which county to view. In other cases, the overlaps will cause the map to look very messy and blurry (as shown below) this is because the area has been surveyed and mapped several times and therefore all the individual maps for that single area are displayed on top of each other. Selecting a single county to view will display a clearer map.


To view a single county:


  1. Expand the Overlapping Map Selection tab.
  2. Select a single county either by clicking on the map or the county name.
  3. Select a different county to change which county is being displayed.
  4. To clear the selection and see all overlaps either click the 'All' link or click on the map outside the county boundaries. Panning to an area out with the overlap will also clear the county selection.


Map Sheet Information

You can view information about historical maps by selecting the Map Information tool map_info_button.png and then clicking once on the map (when viewing historical maps) which will open the Map Sheet Information pop up.





Roam allows you to create printable maps in A4 to A0 size and in portrait or landscape layout in a variety of formats and at user defined scales.

To create a printable map:

  1. Click the print button on the main menu bar.
  2. Enter a Map Title.
  3. Select the Print Format.
  4. Select the Page Size.
  5. Select orientation (landscape or portrait).
  6. Check the box if you want to add National Grid Lines.
  7. Check the box if you want to include any Annotations you have drawn on the map.
  8. Click Generate Print File, this will produce a PDF file which you can save or print.

Use the tab (shown above) to view a small area of the map content that you will get; use the tab (shown below) to show the extents of the area your map will cover based on the paper size and scale of the map.  Drag the map in either preview window to change the location of your map.

Overlapping Maps
In this release of printing in Ancient Roam, in areas that contain Overlapping County maps, all the overlapping maps in that area will be printed. It is not possible to select a single county to view and print that county map. When you select a single county map to view, printing will be disabled.

2 up View
Printing of 2 up View maps is not available in this release of printing, it is planned for a future version.


Save a map image

The Save as screen image option enables to you create simple images of historical maps to save to your computer which you can then embed in documents as either PNG or JPEG.

To save an image:

Map Information

The Map Information tab displays spatial reference information about the current map view. The information will update as you pan and zoom the map.

  1. Click Map Information on the Side Menu tab to open.

  2. Displays the top right and bottom left coordinates of the current map view. NB: The bottom left coordinates relate to the corner hidden by the left task panel when it is expanded.

  3. The scale the current map will be printed at.

  4. Hover over any point on the map to view the coordinates.

My Maps

My Maps enables you to open and save maps and annotations you have previously saved.

Save My Map...

You can save your existing map, and any annotations on it, using --> My Map...

Note: any annotations you have on the map will be saved with the map.

Open My Maps...

  1. Click --> My Maps menu in the main menu bar.

  2. Click to select any saved map to view in the map window.

  3. Sort the list of saved maps by clicking the column headings.

  4. Click Delete Selected to remove the map from your saved maps.

If there is a in the Annotations column this indicates that there are annotations present in the saved map.

If you already have annotations present on your map and you try and open another map that also has annotations on it, you will be asked to either delete your existing annotations or to merge existing annotations with ones on the selected map.

Note: You should save your existing annotations you want to keep before opening another map using --> My Map...


Map Tools

Annotation Tools

The annotation tools in Digimap Roam allow you to draw symbols, lines, polygons and text on your maps. You can add labels to these features and have the ability to select colours and styles for them too.

Below is a summary of the main Annotation Tools and how to use them.  Detailed help on all the tools and functions available can be found in the How to use the Annotation Tools help page.

Click on the Annotation Tools option under the  menu above the map to open the Annotations toolbar.

Add features using the Draw & Create set of tools on the toolbar.  Select from the point, text, line or area tools, and click on the map to start drawing.

Text colour and font size can be set using the Text Settings options.

Area style settings can be set using the Fill and Stroke settings, to select the colour and opacity of the fill and the colour, style and width of the outline.

Line style settings can be set using the Stroke settings.

Use the modify tools to add labels, reposition, resize and reshape features drawn.


To edit the colour and styling of text, line or areas drawn, click on the Select tool (or the drag to select tool) and then click on the feature you want to edit to select it, it will be highlighted.  Next, change the colour and style settings you want to change.  Then deselect the feature(s) by clicking away from the feature in an area where you have no annotations.


Saving and Opening Annotations

To save a set of annotations you have drawn, use the Save My Map.... tool on the main menu bar Give your map set a name and click save and the map along with any annotations wil be saved.  

To open a saved set of annotations, click on the Open My Maps... tool on the main menu bar and select the map together with annotations you want to view.

You can import a dataset you have and want to add as features to the map using the Open --> Annotations from file... function on the main menu bar.  Select the Open annotations from file tool, choose a file to import and click upload.  

Supported formats are:


To export a set of annotations you have created to a file suitable for use in a GIS, click the Save --> Annotations to file.. tool on the main manu bar, choose a file format, give your file a name and click export.


For more detail help on the Annotation Tools, please see the How to use the Annotation Tools help page.


Measurement Tools

Roam's Measurement Tools enable you to measure distances and areas on your map.

  1. Click the --> Measurement Tools button on the main tool bar to open.

  1. Click once on the map to start measuring.  

  2. Move the mouse pointer along to the next point.  Clicking once on the map will add a point.

  3. Double click to finish measuring.  The total distance or area measurement is displayed in the measurement tools window.

  4. Closing the measurement tools window will clear the line or area from the map.

NB:  Measurements less than 1km in length or 1km2 in area are given in metres and metres squared.